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Office 2011 for Mac hit retailers Tuesday with more crossover between the Apple and Windows editions than ever before — and that might not be a good thing for Microsoft. Microsoft's productivity suite for Mac fans dumps Entourage for Outlook and includes integration with the Office Web apps — the browser-based edition of Office …

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In other news, damn kids told to get off lawn

You ribbon haters are just a bunch of old fuddy-duddies who fear change.

The ribbon is an objectively better UI than its predecessor - but you can't achieve those kind of usability gains while keeping a completely flat learning curve for upgraders. Boo hoo. You can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

Microsoft did something gutsy and risked pissing off its legacy users instead of being shackled to its own past. Just like they got praised for doing with Windows Phone.

People who hate the ribbon are the kind of people who complain that Palm don't make PDAs anymore, or state that command line interfaces are "more powerful", or that "rap isn't even proper music".

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Objectivly better?

No, you mistake the idea that somehow a 'new' approach will be better for those who already can use the menus perfectly well. For those folk, who make up the *majority* of users who would be 'upgraded' the ribbon brings little but pain.

Where MS screwed up was to not give users a *choice*, I mean just how hard would it have been to have menus or ribbon with a simple tick box to select them?

Also why pay MS for a newer version? It was reported:

"Office 2010's inability to work with existing Office add-in applications and macros, and non-XML file formats in older versions of Office documents, concerned 33 per cent"

This is just the sort of criticism levelled at Open Office! While OO is not perfect (and neither are any versions of MS Office), it is free and multi-platform, and if you use the PDF export feature the documents are perfectly readable by more or less everyone.

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objectively better?

want to qualify that or should we just take your word for it?

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@anaru

You're talking rubbish. I recently migrated to Office 2007 from Office 2003, and quite frankly I think it's rubbish.

The whole point about Windows is a common look and feel across applications to make things easy to use, a consistent user interface.

That's been the way it's been since the late 1980's. 30 years we've had a consistent interface.

Microsoft in Office 2007 completely threw that out the window, for what I can so, no good reason other than to create a new product, a new version of a product which they can sell to keep their revenue streams coming in.

Let's take little things such as inserting a Chart into Excel, in 2003, it would prompt you where to put it, in the current sheet or create a new sheet for it.

I challenge anyone to put a chart in Excel 2007 on to a new worksheet, for the first time - without going to the online help and spending a few minutes trying to work out how to do it..

One of my colleagues claims he finds 2007 results in greater productivity for him, but a number of my other colleagues - and I - the frustation we have all experienced trying to find things is immense.

Microsoft really messed up on the ribbon strategy, completely pointless.

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Music

But rap isn't proper music. It's more like poetry with a music in the background.

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Absolutely

Completely agree with you. Just watching how people who don't really use Office much grasp how to use Word with the ribbon quicker than with menus is eyeopening.

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RE: In other news, damn kids told to get off lawn

"You ribbon haters are just a bunch of old fuddy-duddies who fear change."

No, they just like the idea of having a consistent user interface across all applications. If the menus disappear then that's just bogus - menus have existed pretty much forever, across all operating systems. Microsoft might think they had sound reasons for getting rid of them but frankly, Microsoft are a bunch of idiots and their intelligence and software quality have both plummeted since Bill Gates handed over control.

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FAIL

I don't fear change...

... but I do fear my employer's reaction to my taking an hour over a task that used to take me 10 minutes because I can't navigate the UI without having to search "How to [X]" every other step.

Torn between "Fail" (in hope of it being the ribbon's fate") and "Joke Alert" (because that's what the ribbon is). But as I have hopes for teh future - "Fail" it is.

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Pint

"Music in the background" - ???

I think you're being waaaay to generous there.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: "Music in the background" - ???

Reg readers in not getting hip hop shock.

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Re: I don't fear change...

Really? An hour? It took me about an hour to get used to the interface (including a few trips to help, and colleague questions) and in Word I find it actually enjoyable to write something that is formatted well and a decent quality instead of a chore because it's so easy. Excel is a different matter but really only because we're already used to something and a specific way of doing it. The thing about the ribbon is that when you get a feel for how the categories split up it's dead easy to find stuff. It's also incredibly clear from memory-enhancing techniques that having something to visualise as well as order means you'll remember things quicker and clearer.

The fact that there isn't consistency across applications is a moot point, we've already got a 3rd party app that implement a ribbon, and guess what, it's better for it too.

I really don't get it, I can only imagine that the people who have such difficulty are the same sort of people who complained about the change from Win 3.1 to 95 and said it was useless and impossible to use instead of those of us who continually came across things that we liked and were impressed by.

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@absolutely

you are right, it's easier for a completely new word processor user* to pick up using the ribbon than the previous menu/toolbar combination.

However, even though it makes common tasks more accessible, it can be slower to do anything that's not one click, and it makes less common tasks, much less accessible.

I like the ribbon! I think it's a great replacement for the toolbar, but in no way does it replace the menu bar as well. That should have been left in place.

*although, logic says that 90% these people should be toddlers using a computer for the first time.

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Hey you, get off of my lawn!

Oh ribbons are great, ribbons are wonderful....

LA LA LA LA...I can't hear you! (Wow, this may be the most vitriolic thing I've ever written in a Register comments field!)

There are at least two ways to go with this, let's try them both:

1. The computer and its software is a means to an end. If I can do a job manually in a half-hour that the software can do in five minutes BUT it takes forty-five minutes of assorted piddling around to make it happen, which one do you think I'm going to do?

(Extra points to those who said "fiddle with for forty of those forty-five minutes before doing it the manual way").

It's a very extreme point to take, to say that the computer should produce results instead of making me think about how to produce them. In reality, there's a fine balance and a careful line to walk. Some forethought is a requirement and--dare I say it--enjoyable (at least to me). It's my belief that the ribbon UI misses the mark here...'tis well worth thinking about how best to prepare the computer to do something of course, but how much should that be? Even after lots of ribbon usage, I find myself thinking too much about how to do or where something is. The ribbon UI lacks "discoverability", with menus you can at least go here and there to look for what you think you want.

2. Here's the more constructive and better reasoned rebuttal. No doubt that user interfaces change over a given software program's lifecycle...as they usually should. A good software developer balances this change over a few releases so that people can get used to and understand the new look...oh, and they listen to what their customers have to say. Just because a UI is redesigned doesn't make it good. I have strong reason to believe that Microsoft does little of either. After all, they are Microsoft, big and able to do what they want with the understanding that people will probably buy it. The MacBU team did a nice job with Office:2008 and I may buy myself a copy to keep on file. They didn't think the ribbon motif fit in well on the Mac (there's a Mactopia blog posting about this which can surely be looked up) and at least put on an air of caring about how to strike a good balance.

What they did looked good, even if users didn't have a lot of input on it. It did strike a nice balance between ribbons and the classic Office UI, and it looked good...so good, that I've have loved to see it taken back to the Windows version of Office.

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your opinion

Change is a hassle, true. Working in IT, we're kinda stuck with it, so we usually just suck up.

But, just because it is new, doesn't mean the ribbon is good. Basic UI design guidelines (and, yes, I have worked on GUIs and taken classes on design) tell you not to hide/show command objects. For example, you would be expected to gray menu items, rather than hiding them. That way, the user is not disoriented.

Depending on what you are doing, the ribbon's state changes and swaps out a whole view of commands and replaces them with another. Leaving you to hunt and peck back to the original state (is "bold" under Home or Layout? let's look for it) to find your command.

Now, had they left in the menus as well as the ribbon (and there is a plugin to do so), then I would not have a problem. But I find the constant ribbon view state changes makes it a hassle to keep track of little used items.

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VBA at last

Horrible language though it is I look forward to being able to use all our existing VBA automated word and excel docs on a Mac without having to run a VM. Now, who wants to guess on just how many slightly different bugs and incompatibilities there will be between VBA on windows and mac?

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Who needs a mac?

I got enough "slightly different bugs and incompatablities" with just different versions of office on windows.

My favourite was 2 decimals in excel, even after being hand typed, not being equal. The fix involved some creative use of rounding and casting to strings iirc.

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Shoot, reload, aim at second foot..

I am 100% positive that part of the reasons that some banks I know are moving to Mac has less to do with security than with usability - the desire to escape the downtime the ribbon causes.

The idea of creating a totally new UI *WITHOUT* an ability to switch back to the previous one means that migration would always be painful, and in most cases (from what I've seen) undesirable. I have no idea what kind of tablets the boys at MS take, but I would recommend abstinence if they want to stop holing the Titanic any further.

Vista nuked the "automatic update" assumption most IT department worked with, the ribbon nailed this in the Office franchise, with many escaping to OpenOffice (not always a happy escape) or to the Mac where Office still looked usable. No more.

Shame that iWorks doesn't, for any kind of real workload..

Can we.. No wait, the last innovator already left the building. I guess it's up to the last marketing droid leaving to switch off the light...

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Shotguns

Many years ago in a previous job, we'd just look at each other and say "both barrels". No need to reload if you use a shotgun.

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Jobs Horns

Outlook for Mac, too late

We recently ditched Exchange in favour of Zimbra because of the lack of a decent client program for Macs. Never got Entourage or IMAP working properly with our extensive Public Folder system so the chaps on Macs were left using a combination of IMAP with the basic webmail interface.

The Mac chaps tend to use their built in text editor as it has spell check, or NeoOffice and AbiWord at the moment anyway, and those seem to work great. Not sure we'll be buying Office 2010 for Mac.

Not sure we'll be upgrading from Office XP on our PCs either, since it runs like stink on modern hardware and just, you know, works.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: Outlook for Mac, too late

"We recently ditched Exchange in favour of Zimbra because of the lack of a decent client program for Macs."

It comes with one built in - it's called "Mail" and it isn't hard to find...

I'm not sure if it can deal with exchange servers directly but you should be able to configure the server to act as IMAP/SMTP or somesuch...

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Go

OS X Mail

The latest version of OS X Mail does have built-in support for Exchange Server and IMAP... but as the OP said - too late, they've already switched.

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Jobs Horns

Mac Mail? Mac Fail.

Correct, Mac Mail does have rudimentary Exchange mail support.

However it didn't even acknowledge our Public Folders existed (I tried everything), let alone give users write-access.

Tried Mac Mail with IMAP and the Public Folders are accessible in read-only mode, however it insisted on trying to check 25,000 nested folders for new mail every so often. Despite all options relating to that being disabled.

Eventually all our Mac users decided to switch to Thunderbird IMAP, gave them read-only access to Public Folders without any stupid glitches.

All a bit irrelevant now as we only have a couple of Macs remaining.

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Choices?

I don't suppose you can *buy* any other version of Office, so unless you have a spare (and transferable) licence handy you may well end up "deploying Office 2010".

However, for existing users you certainly have a choice. Given that the new file formats are readable as far back as Office 2000 with freely available converters, and given that the core functionality has been feature-complete since the last century, why would the majority want to upgrade?

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Good, and bad

In the last year, I have worked for an organization that couldn't care less about Microsoft Office (small engineering firm), and an organization that depends heavily on it (large firm). In both places I'm using a Mac. In the small company, I didn't use Office at all, and couldn't have cared less to ever use it. In the large place, I need Office a lot, and I'm glad that 2010 is out, as it solves most (not quite all) of the compatibility issues. There is still not LiveMeeting for the Mac version, and in Outlook, you can't schedule conference rooms. But other than that, it works very well.

I still have to fire up a Windows VM if I need these things, but unfortunately, Parallels 6 (and then Windows, and then the Mac) crashes when you try to act as a presenter for LiveMeeting. This has to get fixed. I wish I could use the Java client for LiveMeeting, but unfortunately, this only works if you have Microsoft act as the server for your LiveMeeting, and there is no way in h-e-double-hockey-sticks that this company would allow that. C'mon, MS!

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Anonymous Coward

Alternative to live meeting...

How about Skype? It is cross-platform after all ;)

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office apples...

MS tried once before to bring the look and feel of Office apps on Mac into line with its Windows version.

Word 6 for Mac is practically identical to its Windows cousin. It was a disaster. Mac users detested it and it ran like a dog.

The ribbon UI remains a mess with many commands hidden but still accessible via control key combos familiar to power users.

Don't get me wrong, I think Microsoft was right to revisit the UI for Office apps. The innumerable menus and sub menus bolted on over two decades meant many features were hard to find.

I am just sure the ribbon is much better and on laptops it takes up far too much space.

At least with Office 2011 VB is back. It was just plain dumb to remove it.

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The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

It's not often I feel sorry for Mac users, but...nah - I still don't feel sorry for them.

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RE: The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Of course you don't feel sorry for Mac users - they don't have to use the rest of MS's guff - Winblows etc aren't required.

I don't feel at all sorry for Mac users, Linux users etc. They've made a wise choice not to go with MS!

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Boffin

Pretty Fast

For all I don't like about MS software, I must say that this version of Word and Excel launch VERY FAST. Now lets see how it holds up in real use.

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BAU then?

To quote:-

unfamiliar interface and broken apps

Par for the course from MS then.

I use Office on the Mac. I certainly will not be upgrading to any future version. By the time I need to upgrade I sorta think that OO (or one of its forks) will be really capable of replacing it.

I don't use Entourage or PPT in the current version. T'Bird & Pages are more than capable of stepping up to the plate for my needs.

So we are left with really Excel. Some of the spreadsheets I work with really don't look that good in OO.

Fail for obvious reasons.

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Really? This is the best you could come up with?

It's easy for the media to follow every hype and hyperbole they can track down ... the reality is that the Ribbon in Office 2007 / 2010 is a NON-issue. Any I.T. person that indicates that's their "hold-up" obviously hasn't used Office 2007 / 2010 extensively. And shouldn't be in I.T. since I.T. is all about change ... and being positive to move your users through the progession of new technical developments.

And VBA certainly wasn't any grand new development in Office 2007. Obviously you know nothing about programming for the Office suite.

Get a grip. Do better research. And just don't spout some random figures from narrow-minded I.T.

Word is still about preparing documents. Excel is still about managing data. And Outlook is still e-mail.

Really? The Ribbon? After all this time that's all you could focus on to try and draw attention to a pathetic article.

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RE: Really? This is the best you could come up with?

So you think it's a good idea to get rid of menus? It's not like they're integral to the way most operating systems work, is it? Microsoft could simply have cleaned up the menus a little bit.

It's not as if they have gone with the ribbon in any other applications, either. If you don't believe me, load up MS Paint or Notepad...

So, inconsistency in UI and irritating their established user base. Good move from Microsoft (assuming they want to lose customers)

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Paint does use the ribbon

Really, Paint on Windows 7 is a ribbon application.

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So I guess...

So I guess the ribbons in every Autodesk application (AutoCAD, 3ds Max) don't count either? Try imagining what they would be like with menus upon menus.

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Linux

Even a "good change" is still a change.

> the reality is that the Ribbon in Office 2007 / 2010

> is a NON-issue. Any I.T. person that indicates that's

> their "hold-up" obviously hasn't used Office 2007

> / 2010 extensively.

IT people?

I think the whole point here is that these "grand redesigns" negatively impact all of the end users that DO NOT have some sort of computer science degree.

Any IT person that doesn't think that a change of this magnitude is highly disruptive needs to hand back in their CS degree.

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Anonymous Coward

Just plain 'training' will do

"Concerns about the ribbon and the work it might require to retrain end users"

Having watched an astonishing percentage of users across the public and privates sector struggle with even the most rudimentary tasks in Office, it seems few organisations actually train people to use it in the first place. Knowledge of setting up styles in word seems to be almost non-existent - I've heard it described as for "advanced users" by people who routinely produce 100 page documents, changing each headers font/size/colour by hand. Using spaces to indent text instead of tabs is astoundingly common (including on one occasion for a two-column layout!), as is building lengthy (unlinked) tables of contents by hand. Even "save as" seems to be too exotic for some and templates may as well not exist at all.

Excel has it's own plethora of misunderstandings, but its most common use by far seems to be as a substitute for the tables in MS Word that seem to strike fear into the heart of the average user.

Three-quarters don't seem to know any keyboard shortcuts beyond the basic system stuff and a quarter don't even know those, relying on right-click and menus. I found one individual (10 years in the job) who had never heard of cut/paste and actually retyped everything from one do to another.

I've lost count of the number of times companies have considered that supplying screen res graphics/images/logos as .docx files is acceptable for high quality print reproduction - not exactly MS' fault, but I think the mindset is.

What Office really needs is not a ribbon, a new toolbar or a slew of new functions, but a "cut the sodding clutter and give me the fucking basics cos I just want to write a bloody letter" button, which, along with a few shortcuts, would suffice for most users. "Help" that does what it says on the tin and is navigable by people without a degree in codebreaking would be useful too.

"Efficiency" is one of those words beloved of our so-called business "leaders" (most of them IT illiterate). If they were really up for efficiency gains they'd send every staff member who uses windows/office and lacks the very, very basic skills on a course till they can manage the elementary standard even a fifteen year old should be able to demonstrate.

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Paris Hilton

insert space here

My favourite 'non-training' issue was an Open University essay instruction that required text to be double-spaced. The discussion boards had more than one student complaining that inserting a space between every character was hard...!

Paris. I'm sure she can do double-spacing.

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JDX
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Grenade

Tricky

You cannot bring a innovative new UI and allow a single "switch on the old version" option because 90%+ of people will spend 2min trying the new version and then switch back. Forever.

I'm sure loads of people found the Windows 3 -> 95 transition equally horrible but at some level the creator has to force things on users. Look at how businesses still use IE6 and so on... they only change if forced to, when the don't it ends up causing more problems for everyone.

I can see the counter-argument but not any other logical solution, if you are convinced your new version is a leap forward, than foisting it upon your users. It's not a massive amount of retraining anyway unless you are hiring duds. In which case, find some decent employees.

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FAIL

Bad example

Windows 95 *did* let you revert to the old option for the most changed bit of UI (starting programs). Program manager was still shipped and could be configured as an alternative to the start menu.

Which kind of disproves the point you were trying to make, using your own example to do so.

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Explain why..

"at some level the creator has to force things on users".

I really want to know what *IMPROVMENT* this forcing has. If you could leave users alone who have things that work you would actually get that magical thing called "productivity" that everyone promises but simultaneously screw up by UI changes, and upgrade/patch infinitum disease.

There is NO valid excuse to break someone's way of working if there are no measurable benefits. So far, I have failed to see any in most upgrades.

Simple maths for the bottom line..

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Pint

I like the ribbon

I honestly can't grant any intelligence to people who complain it's difficult to use or hard to learn. And if it isn't either of those, then what's the grounds for complaining? It takes substantially fewer clicks to produce a document the way I want with the ribbon than it ever did with the folding menus. If someone wants to pick a few scenarios and try and demonstrate otherwise, good luck. Because everything I do on the ribbon is faster.

A beer for MS for doing something innovative and better.

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Re: I like the ribbon

The problem with the Ribbon is that it takes up far too much screen real estate, so it doesn't efficiently replace the old myriad toolbars you used to see many users cluttering their workspace with.

Sure, it's quick to access things (in theory), but nowhere near as quick as a keyboard shortcut. So a better interface would probably be a traditional menu style (for more 'advanced' users - ie: those who actually learn and use their keyboard shortcuts) to maximise screen space, with the option (perhaps as the 'default setting' for those not adventurous enough to go into prefs and turn it off!) of the ribbon to give that 'one-click' style button functionality back to users of the old interface.

In actuality the ribbon is a great +idea+ for a UI, but would be greatly improved by redesigning it more akin to the mega-dropdown menu systems seen extensively on large websites nowadays. Sadly, in reality, it's a cluttered mess of information with the look of something to which no thought has been given to spacing or layout resulting in visual overload. Take a look at the way buttons are laid out in OS X Mail (not from a fanboi perspective, just as a case in point for UI design) and compare it to an Outlook Ribbon style interface -

http://macrory.com/blog/uploads/OSXLeopardMail.png

http://i.i.com.com/cnwk.1d/i/tim//2010/04/14/Xobni_Outlook2010.png

see how much quicker it is to perform the most important basic tasks when you can find what you use most in a split second rather than trying to scan back n forth across that craziness until your stumbles upon the option you're looking for?

Additional functionality beyond those main buttons remains under a well arranged menu system and keyboard shortcuts are mnemonic to aid speed of memorising.

For many users (who don't bother to learn shortcuts) an interface somewhere between the two would be the ideal solution. Main functions as easily accessible buttons with further functions under a well arranged and presented 'mega-drop down' style menu (see link for a handful of examples of good UI design for this...)

http://www.smileycat.com/design_elements/mega_dropdown_menus/

With most of these designs the most important element is the spacing. Space! Space! Space! The ribbon as it stands has none of it and that makes it harder to use for a lot of people than a nice clean evenly-arranged interface like a menu. More attention to this kind of detail makes all the difference. After all, design is more about what you leave out (and the space between the elements)!

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Troll

iWork's palettes are better

Then again, just as this article mixes up the OS X and Windows versions of Office, so will I...

I saw Office 2010 at a Microsoft presentation. I wasn't an huge fan of the 'Backstage' concept (i.e. going into a whole new context when you click the 'File' 'menu' (Where did my document go?!)), but the rest of the UI looked considerably more polished than 2007. Then again if you have to include a 'Ribbon Hero' game to train users, that's probably not a good sign (and even worse that it can post your score to Facebook).

What really needed fixed from Office 2003 is the horribly inconsistent and illogical preferences in each app. If they'd gone for a bit of Visual Studio UI sauce I think it would have been much better.

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Jobs Halo

Seriously The ribbon sucks

Is without a doubt the biggest FAIL in UI history. I use office for a living (generally templates but occasional final draft polishing too) my client base demands that I have 2000, 2003, 2007 + Mac versions.

I have never met an enduser who has a good word to say about the ribbon or Word 2007, Powerpoint 2007 is better than previous versions, Excel - who cares, you cant style it anyway without workarounds.

Take my word for it Never use office on a Mac if the file is going on a PC at any point.

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Grenade

Waves

I'm an end user of Office 2007 on Windows who likes the ribbon and I'm glad it's coming to my Mac.

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Biggest fail in history? Really? A Bigger Fail than New Coke?

I hate the ribbon as much as the next guy, but get a grip.

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Stop

@Tony Batt

I recently ditched Office 2k3 at home in favour of 2010. A certain amount of ribbon-related cursing ensued, but after an hour or so it all clicked.

Now I swear at the bloody awful UI on 2k3 while at work and Sod's Law gets its own back.

I reckon there are two problems here. First is that it appears to be impossible to like both versions at the same time. Second is that 2010 (and presumably 2007) feel "right" with the Win 7 UI. Now I've never tried it, but I reckon it would grate on XP and of course, as nobody in their right mind deployed Vista, that's where most 2k7 installations ended up.

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Vic
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Incorrect inference

"Dell KACE did find that enthusiasm for Office 2010 is high, with 85 per cent planning to move "eventually", but they also found that organizations are typically upgrading to Office 2007 before Office 2010."

That's not enthusiaism. Enthusiasm would be 85% planning to move over as soon as possible.

85% planning to move "eventually" means that 85% realise they will be forced to move to Office 2010 when they can't get licences for anything else.

15% have uinderstood that they're not actually tied to Microsoft at all...

Vic.

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JDX
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@Tony Batt

"I have never met an enduser who has a good word to say about the ribbon or Word 2007"

There are some in this thread alone. Making blanket statements about it being better or worse is dumb.

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Is everyone using a different version to me?

I have a copy of Office 2011 running on my Mac and it has both a ribbon and menus at the top (consistent with all other non-Fullscreen OSX apps).

Seems the best of both worlds for me. I have a bunch of icons to press for stuff I use frequently on the main ribbon tab and for all else it is in the menu system just like it used to be.

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